Dark Stripes

See the Stripes Poem

This poem was written and produced a year ago. It’s about Clemson University’s dark and striped past, in its link with the brutal institution of slavery.

I’m sure that people will react on all parts of the spectrum. Some will embrace the words too much and resist a hope that can only be found in the gospel, and some will oppose this poem too much and resist a chance at gospel-centered reconciliation.

Take a few minutes to watch and listen to See the Stripes by A.D. Carson:

Here’s a snippet that stands out to me:

“for some reason or another—
it’s uncomfortable for some people to talk about
slave owners, supremacists and segregationists on those terms,”

You can read the full poem here.

What’s the call-to-action? I think it’s about acknowledging the facts and having others-centered conversations. Too often, we (and I’m pointing at myself, too) want to assert our feelings and opinions and facts, and insist on being heard first.

As I tell kids at in our programs, “God gave us two ears and one mouth, because He wants us to listen more than talk.”

Let’s be open to loving dialogue.

“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”  Colossians 4:6

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Ephesians 4:29

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How Do You Gain Trust: 5 Simple But Difficult Steps

Are you about to move to a new neighborhood, new school, or new job?

Or maybe you recently made a change? Or maybe you did a while ago, but you want to do better engaging those around you. Are you wondering how to earn the trust of your new community?

From our experience of moving (more than I ever thought I would), I have learned 5 simple (but difficult) steps to gain the trust of those in your new community.

The short list:

  1. Get on their turf.
  2. Be humble.
  3. Build relationships.
  4. Love and empathize.
  5. Trust in God.

For a more complete explanation, check out my latest guest post on the Culturally Engaged blog, called Neighboring: 5 Steps to Earn Trust.

I trust that you’ll find this useful. But I probably missed some tips and principles.

Let us know in the comments (here or the CE blog): What have you learned about earning the trust of a new community?

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Summer Camp: Mid-Summer Update

After week off, we are back at Summer Camp. We are thankful to partner with Long Branch Baptist Church, as it has been a wonderful opportunity for our family, and for 40+ children in this neighborhood and in this church.

This experience has been new for us — being leaders at a summer camp without being in charge of it. We are thankful that we haven’t been in charge. For one, it has helped us to step back and not carry such a big load. But even more, we see that the leaders at Long Branch have done a number of things so much better than we could have!

During the first few weeks of this camp, Joanna and I noticed how loving those leaders are. This church has some younger adults and college students serving, most of the ones involved are older. And while these folks might not have the energy level they once did, their love and passion for children is obvious.

Click here to learn more, and to watch a fun video of our campers…

The Hope for Unseen Greenville

Unseen Greenville Panel

Since we moved back to Greenville a year ago (and especially since we now live downtown), I’ve learned a few things about our city:

Greenville does a great job “hiding” its problems (such as poverty).

And (as a result of this),

It’s easier to raise money and awareness for places like Allendale than it is for Greenville.

Now, both of these observations are vast generalizations. Most of us in Greenville are aware of real problems and needs in our community. And we have had lots of supporters for our ministry in Greenville.

But when most people think of Greenville, they think of all the Top 10 lists that our city finds itself on, for food, raising a family, and more. And we are so confident in our superiority that we boast of our hashtag #yeahTHATGreenville.

Still, if you hang around long enough and open your eyes and hear, you’ll see the unseen Greenville.

You’ll want to SEE this . . .

Circles Initiative

Have you heard of the Circle Initiative? Here’s a snapshot:

I’m hankful for this initiative (which is going on all over the country, including right here in Greenville, SC). The mission and success of programs like this is why I firmly believe that relationships are the pathway to solving social issues.

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Need + Resource = No-Brainer

Mister Rogers

My wife and I were watching the bonus features at the end of St. Vincent (great movie, by the way). In an interview, Bill Murray was asked whether it was true that he once drove a taxi while the taxi driver rode in the back seat playing a saxophone.

In his typical nonchalant way, Murray explains the that the story was true, and he elaborated on the details. It went something like this . . .

Clicking here is a no-brainer…

Friends Are Friends Forever . . .

“Do you miss Allendale?”

We are asked this question all the time. Sometimes people ask with a smirk, knowing that we are enjoying life back in Greenville. But mostly they are genuinely wondering about our feelings.

The truth is that there is a lot that we do not miss about Allendale. We don’t miss . . .

  • people who don’t want things to change;
  • the politicking;
  • living in The Middle of Nowhere;
  • public signs with typos and out-of-date information (like 9 months old, or more).

But I would trade all this for the one thing we miss dearly — our friends who are still living in Allendale.

Click here to keep reading…